In this blog post I will describe what an essential oil is, cover the many uses of essential oils, and give examples of methods that can be safely used in the home.
To begin, we need to first know what an essential oil is. Essential oils receive their names based on the plant or flower they represent. For example, Rose Essential Oil is named so because it smells of a rose. Miriam-Webster defines essential oils as: “any of a large class of volatile odoriferous oils of vegetable origin that give plants their characteristic odors and often other properties, that are obtained from various parts of the plants (as flowers, leaves, or bark) by steam distillation, expression, or extraction, that are usually mixtures of compounds (as aldehydes or esters)…”
It is important when purchasing essential oils to make sure you are purchasing 100% pure essential oil and not fragrances or essences. While fragrances and essences tend to smell like pure essential oils, they have been chemically altered to be used for other purposes commercially versus those that are more natural and not as commercialized.
Commercially, essential oils serve three main purposes.
One purpose is to create “aromas” that are pleasant (fragrances and essences). These aromas are used in perfumes, deodorants, other personal hygiene products, room sprays, etc.
Another commercial use is to create flavors for bakery items, meats, candies, and several other items. It's important to note here that essential oils used in flavoring are not the same as those used for aroma therapeutics. Essential oils used in flavoring are deterpenated (a process that removes that removes specific terpenes) or folded so they are more stable and easier to work with as flavoring agents. They're heavily used in the soda industry as an example.
The third purpose is for use pharmaceutically in dental products and other medicinal purposes. There are a few companies that offer pharmaceutical pills that have lavender essential oil used in them to help with sleep as an example.
However, these types of products all go through rigorous testing and are registered with the FDA as over the counter drugs (OTC) that come with appropriate drug labeling as well. I mention this because the FDA regulates all food, drug and cosmetic products for the well-being of consumers. Anything with a medical claim must go through the FDA.
Before You Buy
Even though essential oils are classified as cosmetic scenting agents, they are used widely for aroma therapeutic purposes due to their natural chemistry. When using essential oils, it is important to note that they are a very concentrated form of the plant, tree, or flower that they are created from. Many oils can be irritating if direct contact with the skin is made. Additionally, there are essential oils that are not safe in general for personal use.
Essentials can readily be found in many stores, both online and locally. There are several brands available boasting that they are the best, but the only importance is that the oil you purchase is 100% pure and not blended or as mentioned before a fragrance or essence of the essential oil you choose.
There is no need to pay attention to a trademark (TM) or other registered trademark (RT) when it comes to essential oils is for aromatic or therapeutic benefits. Therapeutically, essential oils are used for aromatherapy and administered via diffusers, bath products like scrubs, roll-ons, and other means.
Using Essential Oils at Home
Essential oils can be used to soothe soreness in muscles, sprains, headaches, etc.. Depending on what the purpose of use is, they can be used in compresses, roll-ons, body oils, body butters, salves, and a few other anyhydrous ways. They are most frequenty used in diffusers, shower steamers, steam tents, and personal aroma sticks. There are also passive methods of diffusion that are frequently used!
There are many different ways and recipes available to use your essential oils in that will aid you in your home, beauty, kids, health, spiritual, etc. As you can see the uses are almost endless and the recipes are readily available if you are open to experimenting. I hope this post has sparked your interest in essential oils more and given you some useful information as well.